Who needs embryo freezing and what methods?

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The ultimate goal of freezing embryo is preservation of the embryo for future use. The greatest challenge in embryo freezing is the water within the cells because when the water freezes, crystals are formed leading to expansion which can burst the cell and causing it to die.

To avert this, the water in the embryo’s cells is replaced with a protective substance called a cryoprotectant and the embryos are left to incubate in increasing levels of cryoprotectant before they are frozen. As soon as the water is removed, the embryo is cooled to its preservation state through one of two methods of embryo freezing which include: slow freezing and vitification procedure.

Slow freezing is one of the processes of freezing embryo which involves protecting the embryos from damage in sealed tubes and then slowly reducing the temperature in the tubes. This averts the embryo cells from getting older and becoming damaged. It is important to note that embryos can last much longer in their frozen state than in their fresh state. However, slow freezing is time-consuming and it requires expensive machinery.

Vitrification is another process of freezing embryo where the cryoprotected embryos are frozen so quickly that the water molecules in the embryos do not have time to form ice crystals. This helps to protect the embryos and to increase their survival rate during thawing. Following freezing, the embryos are kept in liquid nitrogen until they are required for later use.


Side effects of embryo freezing


Cramping or bloating

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Hyper-stimulation of the ovaries

Feelings of fullness


Erratic vaginal discharge


Who needs frozen embryo?

Any woman can need and use embryo freezing. But there are certain groups who may find it more beneficial than others. These include women with genetic disorders of ovarian sensitivities, those scheduled for chemotherapy, and those who take drugs that affect fertility.

Women who are advanced in reproductive age and are not willing to have children yet can also benefit from freezing embryos for later use.

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